NOTE: I have no connection, no further information and am not seeking additional information.
A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. By E. Polk Johnson, Volume III, Illustrated. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago-New York, 1912.
JAMES N. KIRK. - Enterprising and essentially representative of the great industries of agriculture and stock-growing in Mason county, Mr. Kirk is a citizen whose standing in his native county is such as to amply justify him in recognition in this publication. He is the owner of one of the fine landed estates of Mason county, which has been his home from the time of his birth and with which the family name has been identified for more than a century. Bringing to bear indefatigable energy, consecutive application and signal integrity of purpose. Mr. Kirk has gained large and generous success through his own efforts, and no citizen of the county receives or merits a higher degree of popular confidence and esteem. In addition to his farming operations he has long been an extensive buyer and shipper of live stock, and in this field of enterprise he has gained wide reputation and unmistakable precedence.
James N. Kirk was born on the old family homestead in Washington precinct, Mason county, on the 9th of October, 1837, and though he has passed the psalmist’s span of three score years and ten he is still as active as the average man more than a decade his junior. Industry and right living have caused the years to rest lightly upon his shoulder, and he is a fine type of vigorous and worthy old age. Mr. Kirk is the son of Benedict and Ellen (Curtis) Kirk, the former of whom was born in the state of Maryland, in May, 1809, and the latter of whom was born in Mason county, Kentucky, in 1810. They became the parents of six children, of whom the subject of this review was the firstborn; John C. is identified actively with agricultural pursuits in Mason county; Margaret is deceased; George is now a resident of Farmer City, Illinois; and Rochester B. maintains his home in the west; and Robert C. is identified with business interests in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. Benedict Kirk was a son of George Kirk, who was a native of Maryland, where the family was founded in the Colonial days, and who removed with his family to Mason county, Kentucky in 1814. Here he secured a trace of land and developed a productive farm, upon which both he and his wife continued to reside until their death, and both were numbered among the sterling pioneers of this favored section of the old Blue Grass state. They became the parents of five children, of whom Benedict was the third in order of birth.
Benedict Kirk was reared to maturity on the pioneer farm and his educational advantages were limited to those afforded in the primitive schools of the locality and period. He eventually engaged in farming on his own responsibility and he also made a specialty of stock-growing. Success attended his efforts and he became one of the substantial citizens of the county, but owing to losses incurred in connection with the buying and selling of mules just previous to the Civil war he met with serious reverses, through which he lost much of his property. He was a man of impregnable integrity and ever commanded the uniform confidence and esteem of all who knew him. He continued to maintain his home in Mason county until his death, which occurred on the 23d of February, 1887, and his wife, Ellen (Curtis) Kirk, long preceded him to eternal rest, as she passed away in the year 1855. Both were consistent members of the Christian church and in politics he gave his allegiance to the Republican party.
Compassed by the beneficent influences and duties of the home farm, James N. Kirk was reared to years of maturity, and he waxed strong in mind and body under the discipline, through which he laid the foundation for the vigorous constitution that has made him still stalwart in his venerable age. He assisted in the work of the farm during the summer seasons and in the winter months duly availed himself of the scholastic privileges of the common schools of the locality, there gaining the secure preliminary knowledge which was to be so effectively supplements by the lessons later gained in the school of practical experience and responsibility. Mr. Kirk continued to be associated with his father in the work and management of the home farm until he had attained the age of twenty-three years, and he then, in 1870, purchased the old homestead, which comprised three hundred and fifteen acres. In assuming this large obligation he has but little money to apply on the purchase and he won his success and advancement by hard work and good management. He reverts with much of satisfaction to the financial aid given him when most demanded by Richard Kirk, a cousin, and C. B. Pierce, the pioneer banker of Maysville, and he proved himself well worthy of the confidence reposed in him by this able financier to whose bank he had recourse in meeting the obligations which he had assumed in the purchase of his property, the while he never failed to meet also the obligations which he had assumed at the bank. He continued to reside on the old homestead until 1894, when he sold the property, and on the 26th of April of that year he located on his present fine estate, which comprises three hundred and ninety acres, well improved in all respects and including a spacious and attractive residence. The farm is eligibly located about three miles east of the village of Washington and is one of the valuable rural demesnes of the county. The place is devoted to diversified agriculture and stock-growing, and a specialty is made of the raising of corn and tobacco.
In 1862 Mr. Kirk initiated his operations in the buying and shipping of live stock, and with this branch of industry he has been actively identified during the long intervening years, within which it may be said, without fear of legitimate contradiction, that he has bought and sold as many cattle, sheep, hogs and mules as any other man in Mason county. Fair and honorable in all of his dealings, his reputation has constituted his best business asset. At the time of the Civil war Mr. Kirk sold mules for the use of the northern armies, and he recalls with somewhat of facetious appreciation that in connection with his business at that period he slept at different times in the same bed with both Union and Confederate soldiers on many occasions, availing himself of such sleeping quarters as were available. He never had any trouble under these conditions, for he never felt it necessary to express his op[inions as to the war, and he thus created no antagonisms.
In May, 1884, Mr. Kirk was elected a member of the directorate of the State National Bank of Maysville, in which he is one of the principal stockholders and of which he has served as vice-president since 1895. Though loyal and progressive as a citizen and a staunch supporter of the cause of the Republican party, with which he has been identified from practically the time of attaining his legal majority, he has had no aspiration for public office and he invariably refused to become a candidate for the same. Mrs. Kirk, who has been a true companion and helpmeet to her husband, is a zealous member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South.
On the 222nd of December, 1874, Mr. Kirk was united in marriage to Miss Minnie E. Rees, who was born in Mason county on the 28th of February, 1848, and who is a daughter of Daniel and Mary (Hayden) Rees, both natives of this county and members of sterling pioneer families. Mr. and Mrs. Kirk have six children, concerning whom the following brief record is entered: Maude E. is the wife of William M. Stockman, of Maysville; Elijah T. is a representative farmer of Mason county; James R. and Maurice C. are identified with business interests in the city of Maysville; and Ellen E. and Thelma remain at the parental home.